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Bus Story: Life Storms

There’s disaster in his head. Or two. Outwardly, his well-manicured hands and salon haircut match his shiny, polished shoes and tailored suit. But inside, rages a cyclone of giggles, intermingled with a tsunami of grief. The conflicts play across his face, like a sunny day interrupted by a sudden rainstorm. He is scrolling through something on his phone; I can see his finger intermittently swipe to one side, resulting in yet another shift in the emotions behind his eyes. Finally, I catch a glimpse of his phone, and he’s flipping through pictures. Memories are like that; one moment it’s a spring day, and you are strolling along, listening to the birds singing, and the next, your socks are soaked through as you step in a surprisingly deep, icy cold puddle. 

Bus Story: The Duality Commute

Tears decorate her alabaster face like delicate, salty icicles clinging to a statue in the depths of Siberia. No sound comes from her, swaying as the bus jolts and swings along its journey; but tears continue to make their way along her cheeks. Her pale skin is complemented by hair the color of smoke, a gray that is almost blue. Golden brown eyes are filled with sadness. Several of the riders gaze upon her with concern as their own eyes are brimming with sympathetic tears.

Without preamble, piercing the morning air is a giggle so filled with glee that other riders can’t help but join in. The source of the laughter is a woman so identical in appearance to the first that I make myself dizzy with double-takes. Same pale aspect, same hair, but the giggling woman’s brown eyes shine with happiness. Her effervescence cascades through the other half of the bus, in waves of giddy sunshine.

It is a nice balance that the twin goddesses of Sorrow and Joy ride the bus together, but it does make for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for the rest of us.

Bus Story: Riders on the Stream

It’s difficult to see him. No, that isn’t quite right. He’s hard to see. When he first stepped aboard, there was something odd about the way he moved. It was robotic, in a herky-jerky sort of way. When he asked the driver a question, I could not make heads or tails of the language he was speaking; and neither could the driver. The man, slight of build and dressed in a light grey suit, shook his head, muttered, and tapped his wristwatch. He sighed and said, “Backwards. Sorry.” And then asked the driver about routes and fares. Once he was in a seat, I kept hearing an odd sound from his direction, like the high pitched whine of a mosquito. And when I looked at him, I couldn’t get him in focus. I thought my glasses were smudged, but no, he was blurry. All of him. Except his shiny, bronze colored wristwatch. And then, suddenly, everyone’s ears on the bus popped, like we’d just changed altitude. And the whine sound was gone. When I looked back to the man in the grey suit, he was gone and a woman in a tan coat and a lavender knit cap was in his seat. As if she’d always been there.

It seems that commuting through time appears to be just as rife with challenges as other modes of transport.

Bus Story: The Son Also Rises

It is chilly out and the sun is trying in vain to push itself through the thick grey clouds that hang over the city like dingy candy floss. Most of us are bundled up, not quite in winter regalia, but still protected from the chilly wind and rain. When he steps aboard, what he is NOT wearing is immediately noticeable; a jacket. Or a coat. Or a sweater. Or even a long sleeved shirt. A t-shirt, in a pale blue color, is stretched over his muscled torso. He towers over most, capping it off with a very shiny, very bald head. And, oddly, no eyebrows or eyelashes. As he finds a seat, his phone rings. I think it’s some song by Foreigner.

Answering with an exasperated sigh, “Yes, Dad. I know, Dad. Don’t worry, Dad, I’ve got this.” 

He hangs up and he turns his gaze to the woman next to him, his blue eyes scanning her face, seemingly without emotion. She shivers, visibly, and, almost involuntarily, reaches out a hand to touch his exposed forearm. And lighting quick, she snatches her fingers back, and begins blowing on them, as if she’d touched a frozen metal ice cube tray. He smiles, coldly. Just as he’s leaning towards her to speak, his phone rings again. Definitely Foreigner. 

“Aw jeez, Dad, I told you I’m all set. Stop worrying. No. There are no capes. I promise. Yes, Dad, I looked. Fine. I’ll call you the minute I get there.” 

By the time he’s done, the woman is engrossed in her Kindle and ignores him.

I don’t know what is weirder; that he has a son at all, or that Mr. Freeze is a helicopter parent

Bus Story: Scalding Acceptance

It’s a disaster in the making. The gentleman boards the bus as if walking barefoot over vipers, his eyes wide with trepidation. Challenged just by walking, he has compounded the event by carrying an umbrella, a satchel, and, a carry-out container of hot soup. As the ridership sees the steam escaping, and the smell of chicken soup wafts through the early morning air – an atmosphere normally reserved for the scents of coffee and anxiety – you can feel the tension building. He gingerly steps along, making his potentially treacherous way down the aisle, towards a seat in the far back of the bus. With every bump and lurch, a collective clench circulates among the riders nearest him. Finally, a young woman, leaps to her feet and all but pushes him into her seat. His feeble protests transition to muttered gratitude as the rest of the bus releases the breath we didn’t realize we were holding.

Sometimes receiving help comes with a slight shove, but, when you take it, the world will be grateful.